WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FASTING – BENEFITS & RISKS

AI image of a date and a lantern reflecting ramadan

As Muslims start the holy month of fasting this Ramadan, this post clarifies the health benefits recommended by Islam along with corresponding risks.

During Ramadan, devout Muslims don’t eat or drink in the hours between dawn and sunset. This frequently means up to 12 hours without food and lets your body get into a ‘fasted state’ where it is burning fat instead of digesting food. It takes about 8-10 hours after a meal to get into this fasted state and this is why fasting is great. Without fasting, our bodies rarely ever get into this state.

A number of studies have concluded that intermittent fasting – abstaining from food and drink intake periodically – can be good for us, it is actually one of the more popular diet trends worldwide.

  • Weight-loss: During fasting, the body relies on stored glucose in the liver and muscle for energy, as it can’t obtain energy from food. After the body depletes its stored glucose (usually happens 8-10 hours later), it starts burning fat for energy, potentially resulting in weight loss.
  • Muscle preservation and reduced cholesterol levels.
  • Detoxification: Toxins stored in the body’s fat are dissolved and removed from the body.
  • Feel better: after a few days, higher levels of endorphins are produced in the blood, and this can have a positive impact on mental well-being.
  • Boosting immunity: Prolonged fasting may also be effective for regenerating the immune cells. Fasting cycles can help generate a new immune system.
  • Better skinLowered blood sugar which improves skin integrity and supports healthier collagen in your skin.
  • Fasting activates protective mechanisms in the brain because neurons benefit from mild stress induced by minimized food intake.
  • It decreases the risk of inflammation through better hormone balance.
  • Fasting encourages better insulin sensitivity and reduces insulin resistance that would cause weight gain.
  • It improves cardiovascular function, blood composition, and blood pressure perhaps due to reduced salt intake and increased loss of salt through urine.
  • It boosts your metabolism by increasing thyroid hormone production and improving leptin sensitivity.
  • Dehydrationthis is largely because your body is not getting enough fluid from water and food. So drinking a lot of water prior to fasting periods is encouraged.
  • Fasting can increase stress levels and disrupt sleep patterns.
  • Headaches: during fasting period, dehydration, hunger or lack of sleep can lead to headaches, especially in the first few days.
  • Fasting can cause heartburn; abstaining from food leads to a reduction in stomach acid that digests food and destroys bacteria. Smelling or thinking about food during fasting periods can trigger the brain to signal the stomach to produc excessive acid, leading to heartburn.

Obesity is a risk factor of diabetes due to insulin resistance and one of the benefits highlighted is the increased sensitivity of insulin. Read about obesity and the Impact of Sugar on Health here. If you notice any unusual signs during this period, don’t hesitate to reach out to a doctor via telemedicine. They are here to assist you anytime any day.

Related Articles